Iron deficiency (ID) is a decrease in the total amount of iron in the body due to either a(n):

  • Decreased absorption or,

  • Increased loss of iron in the body


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) occurs when the iron deficiency is sufficiently severe enough to reduce erythropoiesis (blood production). Having too little hemoglobin is called anemia with the most common cause not having enough iron in the blood. As a result anemia becomes the condition that affects red blood cell production and the functioning of several organ systems.



Approximately 3% of Canadians have anemia (low hemoglobin).

It is the most common nutritional deficiency and is most prevalent with females and young children because of rapid growth and higher iron needs.  As we age, and dietary habits change, anemia can also become more prevalent as well.


To diagnose iron deficiency, your physician can do a number of blood tests to determine how much iron is in the body.

The most common tests look for:

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Hemoglobin Levels – lower than normal hemoglobin levels (grams of hemoglobin per litre of blood) indicate anemia


Hematocrit Levels – to measure the percentage of red blood cells in the body by volume

Ferritin Levels – a low level of ferritin, usually indicates a low level of stored iron




Both hemoglobin and hematocrit levels begin to decrease during the later stages of iron deficiency, ie. anemia. 

Classification of Anemia - Hemoglobin Levels



  1. WHO. Haemoglobin concentrations for the diagnosis of anaemia and assessment of severity. Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011 (WHO/NMH/NHD/MNM/11.1) 


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28-1530 Drew Road
Mississauga, Ontario
L5S 1W8


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